My nightly prayer as a child growing up in the Bible belt:
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”
When you are young, you kneel by your bed, fold your hands and say it. Around 9 years-old, you quit kneeling, climb into bed, fold your hands and say it. Finally, around 11 or 12 you don’t even say it aloud any more. You think it.
And everyone wonders why all the children in the Bible belt have insomnia. Lord, take my soul of I should die before I wake, only sleeping looks a lot like you’re dead so what if God says, “Yeah, the kid looks dead. Take his soul.” God was like the invasion of the body snatchers. I stayed awake in the dark after I went to bed as long as I could, and when I woke up in the morning, I was always a bit startled to still be alive.
My Sunday school teachers added to the hype by saying, “God never takes a day off.” All I could think about was the Lord’s possible sleep deprivation causing mistakes, and he was accidentally snatching up souls, and then later apologizing like God might do by simply saying “My bad.”
Christians don’t believe in reincarnation so it’s not like the Uncharted video game where you die and come back to life. If God snatches your soul accidentally, you have to go with God and God knows where. Finally, one day I taunted God and stole a communion glass from the church after I drank the grape juice out of it. I was sure God was going to tell his minions which were the disciples, only I imagined them short like elves, “We’re going to get this one. She’s a bad egg. No sense in letting her grow up. She’ll be stealing cars, and blowing up cow pastures.” God was right, of course, but he seemed to skip over me, like “oh well. We’ll let this play out. She’ll be sorry she took my little shot glass.”